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New calibration standards for accurate radioactivity measurements in the steel industry

Metal recycling conserves natural ore resources and supports sustainable development, hence benefitting industry, consumers and the environment. However, several accidents in the past decades where inadvertently collected scrap metal contained radioactive material resulted in stricter controls and development of new standards to detect contaminated scrap metal and protect citizens and the environment from its harmful effects.

In close collaboration with European Metrology Institutes, JRC scientists organised an inter-laboratory comparison to determine the reference value of the radioactivity concentrations in newly developed calibration standards made from cast steel. The exercise resulted in two new reference standards of Cobalt-60 (60Co) in cast steel. Cobalt-60 is the most common radionuclide that may be encountered cast steel (the final product). The Cobalt-60 contamination can accidentally occur due to scrap metal melting incidents.

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